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... the answer is "pretty damn horrible", okay?

Y'see Ireland has this law whereby abortion is made illegal. It's not actually supposed to include cases where there's a danger to the mother, but that didn't stop the recent ridiculously unnecessary screw-up. The law actually doesn't really so much stop abortions as make them extra specially difficult because anyone who wants one has to travel specially to the UK to get the procedure done. Of course, that's not really feasible when your fully intentional pregnancy has gone awry and you are in a severe condition in an Irish hospital.

This lovely lady is called Savita Halappanavar. She died tragically a week after being admitted to a hospital in Galway where she was found to be miscarrying. For three days she asked for doctors to terminate her pregnancy but this was refused on the grounds that: "This is a Catholic country." Apparently her response that she was neither Irish nor Catholic made no difference to this (she was Indian and Hindu).

Dr. Jen Gunter explains:
...“Miscarrying” at 17 weeks can only mean one of three things:

A) Ruptured membranes
B) Advanced cervical dilation
C) Labor (this is unlikely, although it is possible that she had preterm labor that arrested and left her with scenario B, advanced cervical dilation).

All three of these scenarios have a dismal prognosis, none of which should involve the death of the mother.
Since Savita was told that the doctors would need to wait until the foetal heartbeat stopped before they could intervene, Dr. Gunter has a number of possible explanations, all of which are horrible:
As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.
2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.
3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.

What we do know is that a young, pregnant, woman who presented to the hospital in a first world country died for want of appropriate medical care. Whether it’s Irish Catholic law or malpractice, only time will tell; however, no answer could possibly ease the pain and suffering of Ms. Halappanavar’s loved ones.
And it only gets worse...

This is Senator Ronan Mullen. He's decided to take this moment to announce that: "he hoped protestors outside the Dáil would not use the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar as an argument for legislating for abortion."

Yes, because clearly a woman dying from being denied an abortion is NOT the time to start asking questions about access to abortion, right? No, instead it's the PERFECT TIME to start denouncing any such idea and SHAMING anyone who even dreamt of bringing up the matter, obviously! *facepalm*

(Reminds me of the pro-gun guy who got upset that people were suggesting that the Colorado shootings
might indicate that gun control was lacking. But at least he was just some random guy on the internet and not a public figure in a position of authority.)

Meanwhile the minister for health, James Reilly, reckons that it's too early to say whether ties to a Catholic ethos were at fault:
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, he said we "could not pre-judge" the situation, adding he had no evidence to suggest a Catholic ethos at the hospital prevented the pregnant woman's life from being saved by a medical termination.

Okay, fair enough, I suppose that's true. However, if we consider Dr. Gunter's words, Reilly appears to be ignoring the seemingly inevitable consequences of what he's saying here. If the Catholic ethos was not at responsible for this tragedy, either through Ireland's Catholicism-determined anti-abortion law or in through the practices of the medical staff at the hospital, then there is only one possible alternative. That alternative is that the medical staff involved were abysmally and ludicrously incompetent.

In the meantime there are candlelit vigils across Ireland in response to this tragedy. One might have hoped that the Irish authorities would take it a little more seriously.... D':

(Guardian - Ireland should change abortion law)
(Dr. Gunter considers the case)
(Reilly: No evidence Catholic ethos prevented Savita's life from being saved)
(Pharyngula weighs in)
(Images of vigils and protests)

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(video link)

This time Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland decides to come out with the same BS that we've seen in the past. He says that Christians are being persecuted for wearing crosses in public.

0:31 Beginning of relevant report.
2:24 Interview with Andrew Copson on the issue.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association strikes again. Once again he explains very clearly and diplomatically why the latest "Christians are being marginalised" story is BS. (His phrasing: "their claims have very little basis in fact" rather than "they are making s**t up".)

Also liking the new beard. :)

Cardinal O'Brien has previously claimed that when the New Labour government were in power there was "a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". Why's this? The introduction of civil partnerships, allowing adoption by same-sex couples, allowing embryo research and not passing a law to lower the legal time limit in which an abortion may be carried out. He also referred to the Equality Bill as "legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom". And now he has the audacity to push the lie that Christians' rights to wear crosses are under attack. Ugh!

(cross posted to [ profile] atheism )
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(Short answer is "no" btw..., but there's more.)

Interesting article.

The article states its focus as follows:
"Joseph Ratzinger knows that he can’t aim his pious invective at the Jewish people as his predecessors did. So this most contemporary pope takes aim at the next best enemy of his faith: atheists. It’s another blood libel in the making."

Now it's quote strong words to call Ratzinger's rants against atheism equivalent to the blood libel against the Jews. But I think the point is that if Ratzinger still held the politcal power that Popes of the past did, this would be a great deal more worrying.

That said, the rise of secularism and the Church's waning reputation are precisely why Ratzinger is making comments like this in the first place. Personally I see this not as a worrying blood libel, but as another example of the Pope talking out of his arse.

However, I think the article may have a point that ranting about atheists is a more publically acceptable alternative to ranting about Jews. Apparently there's been a recent shift of people moving out of the Church because of its dealings with the "Legion of Christ" religious order, whose leader is known to have been a drug addict involved in a string of sexual abuses including paedophilia. Meanwhile seemingly in the same week there's been an uproar over a bishop in the "Society of Pius X" blogging the blood libel. The fallout of this specifically anti-semitic issue forms the context for Ratzinger's speech in Assisi.

When the focus is on the crimes of religion, how can he shift the blame? The answer is simple: lie.

"The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

"Yet I do not intend to speak further here about state-imposed atheism....

Now Ratzinger knows damn well that the Third Reich did not have state-imposed atheism. He also knows that the holocaust was fuelled by anti-semitism, often backed up by Christians. Even Martin Niemoller, remember for his poem "First They Came..." is known to have committed the blood libel. The fact is that anti-semitism was a fact of life for most people at the time and using religious, specifically Christian, excuses for bigotry against Jews was far from uncommon in Germany long before the Nazis gained power. In fact, this bigotry was, for many Germans, an incentive to elect Hitler in the first place as a strong leader entrenched in good Christian values.

What's more, for many Jews expressing God's absence was the consequence of experiences in the camps, not the other way around.

So why does Ratzinger, who grew up in Nazi Germany, put the blame for the camps on atheists? They're a handy scapegoat and one that much of his audience will readily accept.

Meanwhile Ratzinger informs us that agnostics choose to be agnostic because really they are "they are seeking the true God". While I can imagine a few agnostics agreeing with that, it's pretty condescending at heart. "You know when you said you weren't sure that there's a God? Well that's just because you were searching for the real God. I guarantee that you are most likely to find Him if you check out our traditions. Go ahead, dive right in!" - Yeah, f***ing charming...

In other news, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have asked Susan Sarandon to apologise for calling the Pope a "Nazi". Because "it only serves to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust". Perhaps they should talk to the Pope about that little issue too....?

(Via Butterflies and Wheels)
(Also several articles used on "The Freethinker")
(Ratzinger's full speech)

x-posted to atheism
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Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV

In a break with his traditional teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has said the use of condoms is acceptable "in certain cases", in an extended interview to be published this week.

After holding firm during his papacy to the Vatican's blanket ban on the use of contraceptives, Benedict's surprise comments will shock conservatives in the Catholic church while finding favour with senior Vatican figures who are pushing for a new line on the issue as HIV ravages Africa.

Read more... )

x-posted to [ profile] atheism 
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Earlier this year, Rice, who was raised a Catholic, lost her faith and returned to it in middle age, posted a message on Facebook. "I quit," she wrote. "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

Given the unchanging nature of the Catholic church, the obvious question is, what took her so long? "Yes," she says, carefully. "I'm still stridently criticised by Catholics who say, you should've known, when you came back. But we all learn; isn't that part of life, that you learn? I joined with the best of intentions, thinking I knew this religion from childhood, thinking it's a fine religion, an honorable religion. Then I began to really study it and I found it was not an honorable religion, that it was not honest. Now, someone else, maybe, would draw totally different conclusions. But I think the argument that I didn't have a right to change my mind is absurd."

Attending mass became stressful. She had a terrible row with a priest friend. "He said Obama was just as bad as Joseph Stalin because of his allowing abortion. And I said, 'Are you seriously saying that? Do you know who Joseph Stalin really was and what he did?' And he wouldn't back down and there was no more discussion."

For years, she thought, if she studied the Bible hard enough she might work out the contradictions. "But then, as I increasingly saw what I thought was sophistry and lies, I thought: 'I can't abide this.' I can't remain with this. This is crazy. There is no basis in scripture for any anointed hierarchy, let alone a male hierarchy. It's just not there. And how in the world did this man-god die, preaching against the temple, and then we wind up with St Peter's in Rome? How did that happen? There were so many issues where I thought the church was flat-out immoral. I had to leave."

I must say, I was one of the people saying "how could you not know?" However, I cannot help but feel like I understand the sentiment in the interview here. I really do see how the Church can seem quite attractive when you don't look too far into scriptural dictats, hierarchy or history. When I visited St. Peter's in the Vatican City I found the experience very powerful indeed (even if the expense of the building doesn't quite feel in keeping with the teachings of the religion - though naturally the expected response would be that the cost of the Church is dedicated to God and not the possession of a rich man). In the end though, you cannot remain in a religion for long without recognising its politics. I know some Catholics are hoping for big changes in Church politics, but those changes are looking pretty remote right now.
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Suspension of the Defection Process

In April of this year, the Catholic Church modified the Code of Canon Law to remove all references to the act of formal defection, the process used by those who wish to formally renounce their membership of the Church.

Since then, the Catholic Church in Ireland has been reflecting on the implications of this change for those who wish to leave the Catholic Church. Despite our requests for clarification, the Church have yet to reach a firm position on how or whether they will continue to accept requests for the annotation of the baptismal register.

In recent weeks we have been contacted by an increasing number of people whose defections have not been processed, due to the limbo created by this canon law amendment.

Because of this uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend the creation of declarations of defection via from today (12th October 2010).

In response to this, the Church in Ireland released the following statement to RTE News:

The Holy See confirmed at the end of August that it was introducing changes to Canon Law and as a result it will no longer be possible to formally defect from the Catholic Church. This will not alter the fact that many people can defect from the Church, and continue to do so, albeit not through a formal process. This is a change that will affect the Church throughout the world. The Archdiocese of Dublin plans to maintain a register to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect. Details will be communicated to those involved in the process when they are finalised. Last year 229 people formally defected from the Church through the Archdiocese of Dublin. 312 have done so, so far this year.
Article continues here: (Source: The Irish "Count Me Out" website)
(Via The Friendly Atheist)

As if it wasn't hard enough to defect from the Catholic Church already. The article proceeds to explain that there are some countries where a formal document is required to avoid paying a Church Tax. There are also some requirements in relation to marriage.

Have the number of people wishing to defect from the Church really risen so high that they find it necessary to shut down the process entirely? Have organisations like "Count Me Out" been providing for a growing need in places like Ireland in the light of certain scandals in the Church? Then again, hasn't the Church always been rather disinclined to let people leave and wasn't the decision to prevent formal defection simply inevitable?

Removing references to defection from Canon law seems quite extreme whether looked at from the perspective of strong believers or defectors. Surely making sweeping deletions from the Canon law in relation to this issue is a little desperate?

(x-posted to atheism)
x-posted to [ profile] ontd_political 
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I'm very pleased to see that this includes the awesome David Schneider, who I first saw in various projects of Armando Iannucci such as "The Saturday Night Armistice" and "I'm Alan Partridge". (Armando more recently writes and directs "The Thick Of It".)

Another good video from the same guy.
Grey Guy Learns About The New World Order (other guy in the video is a comedian)
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John Milbank first notes that Ed Milliband, the new Labour leader in the UK, is actually an atheist. Something he has actually kept rather quiet. (This is by contrast to the current Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who is now deputy Prime Minister of the coalition government and announced his atheism several months prior to the last general election.) Since Milbank is writing for an Australian audience these days he compares this with the figure of Julia Gillard. (Goodness knows why he's now writing for an Australian publication. Perhaps his suggestions about how to "improve" feminism didn't go down so well with The Guardian.)

As per usual, John decides to name a load of different writers without giving much reason for his choices. So apparently Nietzsche, Heidegger, Carl Schmitt and Louis-Ferdinand Celine are all right-wingers who are darlings of the left-wing. Milbank follows this selection up by saying:
Atheist, and especially nihilistic, Right-wingers can be applauded, even if their thinking requires a little radical-chic tweaking. (The exception clearly is the Catholic Schmitt. But it is not accidental that the bleakness of his vision caused him to regard politics in a more or less nihilistic light.)
Sorry, hang on... Heidegger was also a Christian. I can only presume that John refuses to ackonwledge this because of Heidegger's well-known Nazi party membership. This is the first time I've heard of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, so I can't really comment. Apparently he wrote anti-semitic tracts but also inspired later writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre.

As for Nietzsche's "right wing credentials", Nietzsche does have some right-wing elements. However, he's not easy to pin down. He was most certainly against anti-semitism and nationalism. While most certainly a misogynist (in the footsteps of his early inspiration Arthur Schopenhauer), he believed it important that women be educated. (Amusingly at one point Nietzsche argues that women should not be kept to the kitchen... because the kitchen is far too important to leave to women. *facepalm*) The thing to point is firstly that I have as yet to hear Nietzsche touted as an important left-wing political thinker and secondly that Nietzsche, in spite of his misogynistic views, was actually a hero for many early feminists. Nietzsche's has all sorts of unusual perspectives to offer on a variety of topics and he writes with the firm intention of starting a fight. He wants you to disagree with him. His most important contribution to the history of western thought was his demolition of oppositional binaries. Whether it was war and peace, selfishness and piety, love and hate or good and evil, Nietzsche always tried to mix everything together to get us to see the wider picture.

Thus ends today's Nietzsche rant. On with the show...

So who are the contrasting left wing figures? "T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Joseph Ratzinger." Oh yeah, he went there. Apparently Joseph Ratzinger is a left wing figure:
the Left bizarrely ignores the way in which they advocate an ethical critique of capitalism and propose alternatives that may be both more practical and more genuinely transformatory than the average run of Social Democratic proposals.
Yeah, I'm sorry, when did Joseph Ratzinger outline a practical proposal to solve issues of Capitalism? Also, isn't that a bit rich coming from a Pope who is trying to canonise one of his forebearers who was prepared to make a deal with fascists rather than risk the Marxists (who really did want to oppose capitalism) making any headway?
One can only conclude that what is really hated here is religion, along with certain moral stances that religion tends to advocate. And not just religion - more specifically Christianity, because the academic secular Left can sometimes forgive also Right-wing thematics if they derive from an Islamic source.
Of course, this is rubbish. If there were an Islamic figure that the left was really keen on then Milbank would not have hesitated to list it above along with all the white male authors he decided to mention. He refers to "the academic secular Left". If he'd referred to the left-wing media, he might have had more ground since we recently saw how Maryam Namazie (campaigning against the stoning of a woman for adultery) was left out of a debate to which she had been invited to contribute, while two apologists for stoning were given screen time. However, he has instead decided to talk about academic figures where, unlike with his own ranting here, the opinion tends to be more nuanced.

Of course, where he is absolutely right is where he mentions the "moral" stances religion tends to advocate. By moral he is, of course, referring to things which you and I would consider thoroughly immoral. The Pope has most notably contested the UK's equality laws. The Pope's moral stances appear to be opposition to gay rights, opposition to women's rights and opposition to police inquiries into Church figures. Excuse me if I don't think any of those stances are terribly "left-wing".
This prompts the question: can atheism sometimes be not just incidental to a political program, but lie at its very source - as Pope Bendict recently suggested on his visit to Britain?

I think that this can indeed be true of both ostensibly Right-wing and ostensibly Left-wing programs. The Nazis tried to disenchant the world by enthroning pure material force as the only reality: in conversations Hitler admitted that even his racist rantings were but a populist gloss upon this goal.

Stalin and Mao tried to disenchant the world by removing all traces of tradition and most traces of beauty from the world. For the problem with beauty is that it is too enigmatic and unsettling in its intimations of transcendence. Was the Cultural Revolution in China driven by socialism? Surely it was driven by a ferociously virulent and scientistic secularism.
Yeah "scientistic". A new word has just been invented.

What we are looking at here is the real crux of John Milbank's comments here. What he is basically saying is "the Pope is right. You atheists are all a bunch of Nazis".

It's one more excuse to add to John Milbank's absurd campaign for "Red Toryism" (i.e. I'm support the Tories but I'm actually really liberal donchaknow?).

At this point there's a (very) random aside about how awful Thatcher was, along with a claim that Thatcherism wasn't really compatible with religion (depsite Thatcher being a self-professed Christian).
Given the evidence that atheism itself can become a political program and seek to enact nihilism with dire results, should we not be worried about the gradual drift of the Labour party towards atheism, despite the genuine - though varied - pieties of both Blair and Brown? 

I would go further, and suggest that this drift towards atheism keeps exact pace with a retreat from any genuine radicalism. The party of R.H. Tawney, the party shaped by Methodism, by Anglo-Catholic socialism and the legacy of British philosophical Idealism, was a party that sought to create an entirely ethical market, whether through State intervention or (in my view more promisingly) through mutualist association.

But the largely secular party we have today essentially agrees with the Right about the inevitably amoral character of the market, a view that is increasingly backed-up by new modes of social Darwinism.
"New modes of social Darwinism"? What the hell is he on about?

By the way, the idea that "atheism and secularism are nihilistic" is a common refrain in John Milbank's work. Don't you just love how his method of justifying this position to his popular (rather than academic) audience, is to note how lovely and perfect one random unsuccessful political party was?

Let's also not forget that the "piety of Blair" apparently encouraged him that it was good idea to go to war with Iraq when we still hadn't finished our war with Afghanistan under the ridiculous pretense of weapons of mass destruction. In an interview with Michael Parkinson, Blair claimed that he asked God for guidance in this decision....

After a while of asserting that neo-liberalism and democratic socialism are pretty much the same thing before finally asserting that what they really need is Jesus, John Milbank finally calls atheism "totalitarian". But not before insisting that only atheists would have any problem with the monarchy and a political body traditionally run by the aristocracy and of course, we're opposed to Churches (rather than simply not wanting to make use of them ourselves) and we're opposed to the family (do I really need to explain how dodgy this assertion is in view of John Milbank's "critique" of feminism?):
A programmatic atheism is at work in the growing hostility to the Crown, to the House of Lords (which needs reform, not total mutation into a second House of Commons which would likely be a less radical body), to the Churches, to the family and to group-rights, and in favour of foxes, exclusively metropolitan life-styles and absolute value-pluralism.

Indeed, it can sometimes appear that for sections of today's Left, as for past totalitarianisms, a naturalistic atheism is the main program. This is why political categorisation is increasingly made in terms of attitudes to sexual issues, to traditional cultures and to religious belief, rather than to issues of substantive economic justice. 'Culture wars' have come to displace older debates about just distribution.

But the evidence of history is that the politics of atheism drifts towards a nihilism of the rule of power alone. The evidence is equally that advocacy of the sovereign power of the individual soon gives way in practice to the absolute power of the amoral market and of the sovereign State whose only purpose is itself.
As opposed to the sovereign state of the past whose only purpose was the sovereign.

John Milbank's full article can be found here.

I've also cut and pasted it below for the hell of it: 
Read more... )

Article discussed on ONTD_Political
Article discussed on Atheism
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John Milbank of the Radical Orthodoxy movement has written a new public article. After publishing an anti-feminist tirade (requesting that we set up a new feminism biased in favour of men) on The Guardian's "comment is free", John now writes in response to an extract from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book on

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's extract on that website is no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of it, which is copied under the cut. John Milbank quotes a chunk of it, so instead of posting that same chunk twice you will find it bolded in my copy of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book extract below.Read more... )

So, I was surprised to find that, after an introduction which I found deeply dodgy, there are some parts where John Milbank talks a bit of sense. I guess he's less likely to have an article brim-full of fail when he's discussing religion rather than feminism. Below I have bolded parts which I find particularly dodgy and, in places, I have included links which I believe aid refutation of those statements (and I shall explain those links below). Those parts I find myself agreeing with or approving of are underlined as well as bolded, because I don't feel it is fair to only point out the bad points while ignoring the better parts.

Christianity, the Enlightenment and Islam
By John Milbank
ABC Religion and Ethics | 24 Aug 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali doubtless shocked many of her admirers and detractors alike when she concluded her recent article on the ABC's Religion and Ethics website, "Seeking God, but finding Allah," by praising Pope Benedict XVI's stance on Islam and calling for an alliance between atheists and what she calls "enlightened Christians" in their struggle against a common foe.
Read more... )

My Response

Read more... )
Another writer has also noticed the issues with John's article, decrying his article as "a throwback towards the more obscene forms of Orientalism and colonial arrogance".

Also there's another criticism of John Milbank here (on a different issue).

And he's found on a list of University Professors who have supported 9/11 conspiracy theories.

And if this didn't amuse you enough, here's a link to an old post of mine where I typed out a definition given by one of his Radical Orthdoxy contemporaries, Catherine Pickstock, of the concept of "transcendence".

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That Danish Cartoons Thing - A Reminder...
Hey, remember when we were making all that fuss about how Muslims shouldn't be starting violent riots in order to protest being accused of having a violent religion?

A few facts:
- The violent protests didn't take place straight after the cartoons were published. They took place several months later.
- The protests took place "spontaneously" in countries where spontaneous protest is not allowed.
- Did the cartoons appear in publications available in the countries where these protests took place? No, the protesters were instead shown fake versions of the cartoons which were even more inflammatory.
- Many of the more violent protests were actually organised as a political tool by which to refocus frustrations towards the west rather than towards their own leaders.

Recent Attacks In The US
Now, we all know that there's been a general anti-Muslim feeling being promoted by certain far-right groups in the US (particularly those with an obession with tea bags). However, there's a similar absurdity in the recent decision to accuse Muslims of being terrorists and to then terrorise them.

First of all we had the knife incident, but now we have arsonists in Murfreesboro burning down an Islamic Centre:
Islamic Center officials have contacted the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, according to Ayash, and sheriff’s department investigators “told us they will be investigating this as a hate crime.” Ayash later said sheriff’s officials “asked her to correct her statement,” adding they plan to explore several different motives while investigating the arson.

Ayash said the most recent vandalism to the site “takes it to a whole new level.” The site has already been the target of two other vandalisms, both aimed at a sign marking the future site.

“Everyone in our community no longer feels safe,” she said. “To set a fire that could have blown up equipment and, God forbid, spread and caused damage to the neighbors there ... we really feel like this is something that we and the neighbors don’t deserve. When they (ICM officials) called me this morning I started crying.”
It's a bit odd how the authorities seem unkeen on referring to attacks on Muslims as hate crimes. The police said the same thing when dealing with the chemical attack on the Dayton Mosque. My best guess is that they are concerned about possible copycat attacks, so they are best off suggesting that the attack was the work of a random idiot rather than a premeditated act of hatred.

Right-Wing Groups In The UK

Of course, in the UK we've had our fair share of attacks on Muslims. I gave the example of BNP members responding violently to Muslims making use of a local community centre for Friday prayers. (The BNP denied it was them on the grounds that they would have used a brick, not a firebomb. *facepalm*) More recently there was a protest from the EDL (English Defence League) who appear to be made up of pretty much the same people. (I posted it to ONTD_P.)

Violence By Muslims Against Muslims

I have pointed out in the past that Christians weren't the only one's protesting against the building of mosques. There was a large Muslim protest against the building of a mosque for Ahmadis. I also mentioned the discrimination faced by Ismaelis and even Shia Muslims. However, I never got around to mentioning the massacre of Ahmadis which took place in Pakistan. Here's a response from a Pakistani: our own heartland Lahore 100 Ahmedis were slaughtered by the barbaric Taliban. They were not there on any political gathering or any political point scoring. They were not going to war zone. They were just offering their ‘Jumma Prayer’ to their Lord which they think is as farz (obligatory) on them as on any other Muslim. They were in their mosque, peacefully standing in straight lines bowing in front of the same lord as of the Muslims, Jews and Christians. There is no different version of this story. The enemy didn’t say that they (Taliban) acted in ’self defence’. Their enemy clearly mentioned their intention that they came to kill them indiscriminately irrespective they were men, women, children, young and old. Its pointless to mention that the barbaric didnt regretted the loss of human life because that’s what they wanted and came for. They took pleasure from the blood of the Ahmedis. In a short time span of few minutes they killed 100 Ahmedis.
It's pretty clear that Muslims cannot be dismissed in one single sweeping gesture. They are made up of a variety of different groups with different positions. Just as we should not believe fundamentalist stances about Christianity ("you cannot support Darwinism as a Christian donchaknow?"), we also should not believe certain claims by Muslims regarding Islam. For example, "there are no divisions in Islam" is quite clearly false.

And Another Thing...
Meanwhile Richard Dawkins has referred to Roman Catholicism as "the world’s second most evil religion" because obviously there's a clear hierarchy in this regard. (And presumably the top religion in that hierarchy is simply "Islam" while Christianity gets to be separated into distinct groups.) *facepalm*

I think we probably need to remember that Dawkins has never been the most diplomatic of people, but his recent decision to support Pat Condell's BS against a victimised minority should be called out.
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Image of Hello Kitty shoulder vibrator to give a completely
misleading impression about the content of this post.

My new piece of news is best summed up by the article on Chattahbox:
The Christian right, including clownish Catholic League President Bill Donahue, is incensed over Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen’s admission that she masturbates with the aid of a trusty vibrator, she calls her “best friend.” Donahue condemned the use of a “dildo” as evidence of “insanity.” And the leader of a biblical parenting group declared that Momsen’s solo performances would doom her to a life of failure. And wonders if Momsen’s “newfound notoriety” will destroy her career. Hmm–by this reasoning, does that mean only non-masturbating Christians are successful and sane? The mind reels.
Ok so yeah, I know it's Bill Donohue, so I really shouldn't be surprised. And I'm not.

However, Bill Donohue here represents the extreme of a more common issue amongst Roman Catholics and other religious traditions too. The idea that children in their late teens shouldn't masterbate. (People who've seen Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" will actually have seen a far more extreme example of this opinion.)

Bill Donohue's comments were made on a discussion on Fox News. Another guest was Shirlee Smith from "Talk About Parenting":
“In my way of raising daughters, she shouldn’t be involved with ‘men’ and any of these men who have driven her to sexual boredom belong locked up because our society says men having sexual encounters with those under the age of consent are criminals.”
Just in case anyone is worried about the choice of the word "men", you'll be glad to hear that in the original conversation she said she was "tired of d**k", so someone on Fox News presumably thought replacing the word "dick" with the word "men" would be less offensive to their audience. *rolls eyes* With that in mind, she's only one year below the age of consent in the US and, within my own country, she's one year above it. The fact that she is no longer a virgin is not the most surprising thing in the world (nor is the fact that she has found early sexual experiences to be less than impressive).

The rather bigger issue I have here is with Donohue's claim that masturbation is somehow indicative of insanity in a 17 year old:
...and now we have Taylor Momsen prancing around with a dildo in hand. Looks like this gal’s got lots of issues. No wonder she voiced her insanity in a magazine called Disorder.”

At that age masturbation is the most natural thing in the world. In the movie I referred to above a child is informed that it can lead to physical illness and I'm not sure that the claim that it indicates mental illness is any more pleasant.

The way they insist on making children ashamed of their bodies is just horrible. However, I happen to have saved the perfect response to this kind of thinking from a certain Jennifer Howze quite early in my blog:
So why do some groups keep condemning efforts to improve and normalise sex education? Why don't they applaud the move to bring education into a safe classroom environment conveyed by teachers or parents rather than leaving it to nuggets whispered by the know-it-all kid in the playground?

It seems obvious to me. What so-called family campaigners' want to teach children about their bodies and sex is shame. Shame explains the thinking that there's something inappropriate and "wrong" for a child to know the correct word to describe a part of their body. That knowing the correct words indoctrinates an attitude of free and easy sexuality. That it sullies their pure souls to know how babies are made and to explain what they can see the cow and the bull doing in the field.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for Seventeen magazine called Vagina 101 that answered the real questions young girls had about their bodies: what should I look like? Should I shave my hair? What's a clitoris and where is it?

It was refreshing to interview highly respected doctors who robustly argued that girls and parents should get over their phobias. "The vagina is no different from an ear or a nostril. It's just a place that's part of us," one said.

The piece won an award, but one chain of grocery stores pulled it from the shelves. Some parents had complained about the "graphic" nature of the medical illustrations and descriptions. They likened it to pornography. One mother of a 17-year-old told a local reporter, "It's dirty. It's dirty."

(Via Right Wing Watch)
(Jennifer Howze Article)

(Cross posted to Atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Suppose that you own a small business. You have a small store located in one of the millions of strip malls that have become the American landscape. One day, a couple of representatives from a local Catholic church come into your store and request a few minutes of your time. They show you a picture of large sign they want you to place in your store window so it will be visible from the street. The sign displays an image of Mother Teresa and is intended to honor her 100th birthday.

You politely decline the request, keeping your annoyance to yourself because upsetting potential customers is never wise. The Catholics thank you for your time and leave. You consider the matter closed and move on with your life.

The next week, your are visited by a small delegation representing all the Catholic churches in your community. They make the same request, but this time, they have something else to show you. It seems that they have collected several thousand signatures in the form of a petition asking you to display their sign. They suggest, ever so subtly, that you stand to lose some customers by not honoring their request.

Although you manage to refrain from yelling at them, you make it clear that you are not at all happy with their approach. You compare their tactics with the mafia and explain in no uncertain terms that you will not hang their religious propaganda in your store window. Again, they tell you that they appreciate your time and leave.

The protests start a few days later. Some people stop by to tell you that they will not do business with you until you agree to hang the sign. Others assemble to picket in front of your store. Your calls to local law enforcement do not go anywhere. They have the right to assemble as long as they are not physically blocking your entrance. Your business begins to suffer.

In case you missed it, this story is based on something happening right now in New York City on a much larger scale. Believe it or not, the Catholic church is demanding that the owner of the Empire State building, a privately owned building, light it to honor Mother Teresa. They do not care that the owner has a policy about not lighting the building for religious figures. They have collected over 40,000 signatures and taken out ads in the local papers. They intend to bully him into submission and are pulling out all the stops to do just that.

Read more... )
(Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Last time I wrote about this, Conor Cunningham was just releasing his documentary "Did Darwin Kill God?" I responded to Conor Cunningham's interviews on the subject, having not yet got around to watching the documentary itself. I have since seen the documentary and can say pretty confidently that the book is, in all likelihood, a load of pointless waffle.

Last time I checked out Conor Cunningham's arguments he was claiming that eugenics is the social consequence of Darwinism (because clearly the whole principle of killing off the weaker members of society would never have been considered prior to Darwin's theory of evolution).

The main reasons I didn't comment on the tv documentary were firstly because it was so awful that I didn't think it was worth critiqueing and secondly because comments I found on various blogs were much more apt than I felt I could be. In the end, what would have been the point in adding another commentary about an old documentary that no one was likely to take an interest? However, now that this documentary has won an award and a new book is coming out, I feel it is necessary to express precisely why I think Cunningham's argument is load of old tripe.

Genesis and Early Christianity

Read more... )

Ussher and the KJV

Read more... )

Fossils In The Nineteenth Century

Read more... )

Darwin's Atheism

Read more... )

The Scopes Trial

Read more... )

Modern Creationism

Read more... )


Read more... )

I don't really think there's much point in reading Cunningham's book, but I've got a horrible feeling I'm going to be hearing a lot about it in the future. *groan*

Quick irrelevant side-note:

In my research for this I was interested discover the following note from Mrs. Darwin (annotating Charles Darwin's autobiography):
Nothing can be said too severe upon the doctrine of everlasting punishment for disbelief—but very few now wd. call that 'Christianity,' (tho' the words are there.)

~If there is a problem with the information I've found in wikipedia links please correct me (and them too preferably).~
philosoraptor42: (Default)
PETA is a fraud. It also has a long and disgraceful record of exploiting Christian and Jewish themes to hawk its ugly services. Those who support this organization sorely need a reality check. They also need a course in Ethics 101.
Er, Donohue, I think Jews would rather you left them out of this.

Anyway, here's the image Bill is so het up about. Personally, I think this is hilarious:
See the shocking image! NSFW! )

Model Joanna Krupa, who features in the ad, has this to say:
As a practicing Catholic, I am shocked that the Catholic League is speaking out against my PETA ads, which I am very proud of. I’m doing what the Catholic Church should be doing, working to stop senseless suffering of animals, the most defenseless of god’s creation.
It must be said that the advert is actually in awful taste and the main reason I'm posting it is because it is so ridiculously over-the-top that it needs to be seen to be believed. (Also because I love imagining the look on Bill's face when he saw it. Priceless!)

(Via MediaWatchWatch)

Cross-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

It's an odd contrast with Bill Donohue loudly proclaiming his nonsense, while Pat Robertson quietly gurgles his agreement:
Pat Robertson: Well he's nothing if it isn't a fighter and it's a pleasure to have Dr. William Donohue with us from the Catholic League. And he's written this very very interesting book called 'Secular Sabotage'. Bill, it's nice to have you here. Tell us what got you going on this book.
("Well Pat, I say this sort of crap all over the media and people actually seem to listen to me. So I figured that if I stir up even half the amount of interest I worked up for that Da Vinci Code movie, I might rake some real money out of it.")
Bill Donohue: Well thank you very much and thank you for all the good work you've done over the years in fighting to keep our Judeo-Christian heritage. What got me going is 16 years of doing this job here. [The job of promoting movies, books and television shows by complaining about them.] Looking at the whole culture and how it attacks Christianity. I decided to put it together. [In other words, conspiracy theories sell well.] And what I've done, I've got over 600 different end-notes, citations. This is not an essay, I've got the evidence here.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Pat Robertson and Bill Donohue are both slapping each other on the back for each other's good work. While Pat Robertson probably doesn't have an awful lot of support for the Roman Catholic Church, being an evangelical protestant himself, I can see how he'd forget all that for the purpose of supporting a fellow gay-basher. I'm more surprised by Donohue though. For all the horrible things he's said in the past, I never thought he'd sink so low as to congratulate Pat Robertson for all his good work.

Still, let's get back to what we've all come to expect from Bill. During the interview, the question of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church came up when Robertson asked if "all these scandals in the Catholic Church [were] part of this secular agenda to undermine to undermine the moral fabric of the church." Donohue replied that indeed they were [the section begins around the 3:45 mark in the video above]:
There's no question that within the Catholic Church you have a you a left element ... I regard them as termites sitting within, trying to eat away the fabric of the Catholic Church. So they lie about it in the Catholic Church, they say "oh, we had a pedophilia problem." It's been a homosexual problem all along. It's not my opinion, it's the actual data from the John Jay Criminal Justice System College [sic] here in New York City which looked at the data. I'm not saying homosexuality causes predatory behavior; I'm saying that most of the priests who have been predators have been homosexuals.
Yet strangely, the very same data that Bill references seems to point towards the complete opposite conclusion:
A preliminary report commissioned by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal has found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday.

The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won't be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.

"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse," said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now."

Hmmm, must have been missed out of his many citations....

(Via RightWIngWatch)

Cross posted to Atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has done a lot that's annoyed me. He expressed support for the 'lower the time limit for abortion' movement which very nearly succeeded, he has always been cryptic on the issue of women bishops rather than giving them his full support and he has spoken out against secularism on a number of occasions.

All this being said, he has recently warned against giving too much support for faith-based activism:
Faith communities did not begin from a "clear Englightenment doctrine" of universal liberties, Williams said. "They are necessarily exclusive in the sense that they are committed to particular beliefs that not everyone shares. There is always a suspicion that they will favour their own or that they are using aid and development as a vehicle for propaganda on behalf of their own convictions, a cloak for proselytism.

"The development agency may come to see religion as a positive obstacle to liberation. Faced with the rise of aggressive religious conservatism all this longstanding unease becomes more sharply focused."

Read more... )

(Via BHA)

Cross-posted to Atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

The film stars Rachel Weiz who is from all accounts on top "The Constant Gardner" form as the star of this movie.

The movie is about Hypatia of Alexandria, a pagan philosopher, astronomer and mathematician who was tragically murdered by a Christian mob in the 5th Century AD. One interesting element is that Hypatia was not defined by gender or sexuality, being unusually accepted in the company of men and believed to have avoided sexual relationships (apparently she used her mentrual rags to illustrate that sexual desire is not beautiful).

I absolutely loved Alejandro Amenabar's previous movie "The Sea Inside" about Ramón Sampedro, a campaigner for the right to assisted suicide in Spain and the movie rightly received huge critical acclaim. Amenabar is also the director of "Open Your Eyes" which was adapted into the appalling English-speaking remake "Vanilla Sky" by the talentless hack Cameron Crowe. Before that he made a movie called "Tesis" about a film student considering to what extent violent media should be censored. You may also know about his film "The Others" starring Nicole Kidman. And here's the problem... By far the least impressive of his movies is the English-speaking movie "The Others". I get the impression that Amenabar is a far more capable director in his own language. Still this could be a lot of fuss over nothing. We'll see...

The president of the Religious Anti-Defamation Observatory, Antonio Alonso Marcos, has criticised the movie. (From what I can tell this organisation is pretty much the Spanish equivalent of Donohue's "Catholic League" organisation.) Marcos previously denounced the 'atheist bus campaign' as "illegal", so this is clearly a mild-mannered and even-tempered gentleman.... :p

Marcos comments are as follows:
Read more... )

(Via MediaWatchWatch)

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, I initially bought into the last video from YouLoveMolly. My first reaction was "oh my goodness, how racist of them!" Now, since their Indian friend Saara is still with them rather than beating them over the head with a kitchen stool like any normal person would, I'm not so convinced. Considering that she claims to be a fan of the well known parody-maker Edward Current it's looking likely that this is intended as a parody too.

The biggest hurdle with accepting that the last video was a parody was that it wasn't that funny. The 'characters' were so obnoxious that as a parody it simply seemed mean-spirited. Also, the nagging doubt when watching the video that it all might be real was more than a little unsettling.

In this latest video they've certainly put the effort in. There's a trip to a Church, a tour of local random Christian signposts and through the video there are reaction shots from Saara who seems like a passive "Alice In Wonderland" in this world of Mad Hatters we are watching.

If you don't fancy watching the video (possibly because you were put off by the last one), here's a nice little snapshot to give you an idea of what you are missing:

Here's the latest video if you want to check it out:
Video under the cut... )
x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Cross-posted to atheism


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